Professor of Neurology
and founding member of the Department of Cognitive Science
Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD is Professor of
Neurology as well as former Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry,
Neuroscience, Psychology, Nursing, Organizational Behavior, Bioethics
and History. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University
and MD-PhD (Psychology) from The Johns Hopkins University (with
field work at Harvard and Boston Universities, followed by a Fellowship
in Neuroscience and Psychiatry and a faculty appointment at Hopkins.
With colleagues he discovered fundamental aspects of the cholinergic
pathology in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, which lead
to the development of our current generation drugs to treat these
conditions. In 1986 he moved to Case Western Reserve University
to develop the University Alzheimer Center, now a part of the
University Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case
Medical Center. This center became one of the ten best funded
in the world. He continued his own life-long learning with a Masters
Degree in Bioethics and Fellowship in Organizational Behavior
at Case. In 1999, he founded with his wife, Catherine, The
Intergenerational School, a unique public multiage, community
school. This award-winning school serves learners of all ages
from Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs and is committed to
excellence in life-long learning and spirited citizenship. He
has been active in SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education
and Scholarship) and CSP (College Scholars Program). He developed
courses for undergraduates focusing on the theme of wisdom. He
helped develop the new medical school curriculum and teaches in
various programs including Foundations of Clinical Medicine, a
longitudinal program focusing on professionalism and leadership.
He plans to spend the rest of his life developing and participating
in innovative learning environments that promote the creation
of collective wisdom and contribute to environmental sustainability
and social justice.
He is clinically active at University Hospitals of Cleveland
in the Joseph Foley Elder Health Center at Fairhill Center caring
for individuals with concerns about their cognitive abilities
as they age. He is working to develop an integrative health practice
focused on the healing power of storytelling. He envisioned and
cofounded the Greenwall Foundation supported StoryBank, a regional
resource for transdisciplinary analysis and utilization of narratives
of illness and health that foster community well-being.
His research interests include the neurobiology of what he used
to refer to as Alzheimer's disease and related conditions, the
development of more effective treatments for individuals with
cognitive impairment, including drugs and non-biological interventions,
ethical issues in the medical profession and integrative health
care systems. He has a particular interest in narrative medicine
and has developed a number of programs focusing on the value of
reading and writing for cognitive vitality. These include a National
Institutes of Health funded project to examine whether reading
delays cognitive impairment as we age and various multimedia family
interventions to promote re-membering. His other current NIH grants
focus on quality of life, treatment interventions and genetic
testing in dementia.
He founded the International Working Group for the Harmonization
of Dementia Drug Guidelines and co-founded or has leadership roles
in other national and international groups focusing on the consequences
of aging on the world.
He is the author (with Danny George) of a provocative book entitled
The Myth of Alzheimer’s: What You Aren’t
Being Told About Today’s Most Dreaded Diagnosis. Through this book and related projects he
hopes to transform our thinking about brain aging and contribute
to his own successful cognitive aging.
He is the grateful husband of Catherine, father of three vibrant
young women, and the son of wonderful parents.